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Name: People v. Rossetti
Case #: A139041
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 4
Opinion Date: 10/22/2014
Summary

Warrantless blood draw that occurred before Missouri v. McNeely (2013) ___ U.S. ___ 133 S.Ct. 1552 did not violate the Fourth Amendment because officer relied on California precedent in good faith. A CHP officer arrested Rossetti for driving under the influence but he refused to take a breath test or consent to a blood draw. Without a warrant, officers restrained him and a phlebotomist drew his blood, which showed he had a blood-alcohol level above the legal limit. The trial court denied Rossetti’s motion to suppress the blood test. He pled no contest to driving with .08 percent or higher blood-alcohol content and admitted prior DUI convictions. On appeal, Rossetti relied on McNeely, which was decided after the warrantless blood draw in his case, to challenge the denial of his motion to suppress. Held: Affirmed. Prior to McNeely, California precedent interpreted Schmerber v. California (1966) 384 U.S. 757, to permit warrantless blood draws of a suspect arrested for drunk driving due to the exigency of the loss of incriminating evidence. McNeely repudiated this interpretation of Schmerber, holding that the natural dissipation of alcohol in the bloodstream does not establish a per se exigency in every DUI case. Instead, every case involving a warrantless blood draw must be examined on its own facts to determine whether exigent circumstances existed and the prosecution must prove there was a “compelling need for official action and no time to secure a warrant.” Although the Supreme Court’s new interpretation of the federal constitution must generally be given retroactive application to pending cases, suppression was not required in this case because the officer acted in good faith reliance on California precedent, which permitted the warrantless blood draw. (See Davis v. United States (2011) ___ U.S. ___; 131 S.Ct. 2419.)